Originally Posted by chamojeep1995
I do all the routine maintenance (all fluid checks and replacement of filters plugs hoses etc) but never had to take anything apart, although I'm not afraid of doing it if need be. Is this something where i will need to take the entire rearend off my Jeep to fix?
No, just jack it up and support it very well.
I do one side at a time, and it is basically just pulling the wheel, pull the diff cover, remove the pin in the carrier (kinda tricky), push the axle in and pull the "C" clip, then pull the axle out. Assuming you do not have an older axle that is a non "C" clip version.
Inspecting the axle real carefully where the bearing rides, and the bearing; any pits grooves and the like and the axle/bearing is bad. Depending on the damage and the wear (mileage), you may be able to get away with a new seal and bearing (an offset bearing if there is wear on the axle).
The pinion is more difficult, but basically it would be removing the pinion nut, remove the pinion, and check the bearing. Buy a new nut and seal to replace it.
Pay real close attention to the oil that comes out of the diff. Some metal speckling is expected, but not a lot, and especially if there are chunks in the bottom. Look at your gears while you are there too, you may find some problems there as well, and if so you are looking at a complete rebuild or if you are lucky just spider gears.